BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Persian Pashto Turkish French
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Middle East  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 05:59 GMT
Amram Mitzna: Labour's 'peace' hope
Amram Mitzna has said he won't join a Sharon coalition
Mitzna took over just two months before the elections

Amram Mitzna, a former "dovish general", emerged from relative obscurity to head Israel's beleaguered Labour Party in November 2002.

The former mayor of Haifa was the choice of the peace movement and those on the left of the party seeking to distance themselves from politicians who served with the right-wing Likud Party in the coalition government.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
The former general says he will negotiate with Yasser Arafat

He has come out firmly against joining a unity government with Ariel Sharon's Likud party after the elections.

Mr Mitzna combines his experience as an army general with his dovish views, saying that his military experience taught him that military force alone cannot solve Israel's problems.

He recently spoke out against the current curfews and conditions imposed on the Palestinians by Israel.

The Labour leader has also tried to create a link between Mr Sharon's hard-line security policy and the country's economic plight.

The Labour Party has been in the depths of despair and the appearance of Mitzna from relative obscurity has revitalised it

Uri Avneri, veteran peace activist
Mr Mitzna proposes an immediate renewal of peace talks - even if it means sitting down with the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Referring to Mr Sharon's US-backed drive to force a change in the Palestinian leadership, Mr Mitzna says it is not up to Israel to choose its negotiating partner.

Uri Avneri, a former member of the Knesset and a veteran peace activist, told BBC News Online that Mr Mitzna "has a hell of a lot of political courage to even dare to mention Yasser Arafat's name."

"The Labour Party has been in the depths of despair and the appearance of Mitzna from relative obscurity has revitalised it, morale is coming back. He is the only hope of effecting any political change," Mr Avneri added.

Decorated veteran

Mr Mitzna was born in 1945 on a kibbutz. His parents were refugees from Hitler's Germany.

After a stint at Harvard University in the US, he returned home and joined the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in 1963.

He is one of the country's most decorated veterans, after serving in the Six-Day War in 1967, in the Yom Kippur war in 1973 and in Lebanon.

He earned the reputation of "dovish general" after making a stand against Ariel Sharon over his involvement in the Palestinian massacres at Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982.

He is one of two generals to have resigned over Israel's long involvement in Lebanon, but was brought back to high command by Menahem Begin.

Ariel Sharon in Beirut
Mr Mitzna opposed Mr Sharon over his role in Lebanon in the 1980s
Mr Mitzna served as IDF commander in the West Bank during the first Palestinian uprising, where he was said to be as tough as any other general in dealings with the Palestinians.

At the time, he angered the left, which accused him of bending over backwards to appease Jewish settlers.

Latterly, Mr Mitzna said most of the settlements must go.

Six months after taking over the party - and three months after general elections in which Labour suffered a major defeat - Mr Mitzna resigned as Labour leader.

He said constant backstabbing by Labour rivals was the reason for his decision.


Key stories

Background

Profiles

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes